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Bedrock Beliefs in American Culture

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Presentation on theme: "Bedrock Beliefs in American Culture"— Presentation transcript:

1 Bedrock Beliefs in American Culture
- Stable, significant, longstanding Visible in most aspects of American culture historical origin Note: Cultural Beliefs aren’t necessarily TRUE

2 America as a Special Nation
The U.S. is a nation with a special destiny and mission. American democracy is the only valid social /governmental structure

3 America as a Special Nation

4 Anti-Intellectualism in America
The truly intelligent person translates ideas into practical solutions to real problems, lives “off” ideas instead of “for” them, and recognizes that human identity is found essentially in the heart, not the mind. Common sense v. Book learning Experience is the best teacher

5 Anti-Intellectualism

6 Endless Abundance America is a land of infinite resources. We are so wealthy and productive that we will never run out of anything we need to survive and prosper. Bigger is better. New is better Consumerism is good – more you have, better you are Frontier and ‘manifest destiny’

7 Endless Abundance

8 Individual Freedom Americans have an innate right to personal freedom – the right to choose their own destinies, pursue their dreams, act in any way they see fit short of harming others or interfering with others’ freedom.

9 Individual Freedom

10 Material Success In America hard work leads to good fortune which in turn results in money/fame/power for the virtuous individual. Ownership of personal property is a fundamental right and duty Poverty is a sign of vice and laziness America is land of endless opportunity

11 Material Success

12 Nuclear Family The nuclear family (Dad, Mom, 2.5 kids and pet[s]) is the basic and most desirable American family unit. Everybody should be married Divorce is a failure Family values are our greatest values

13 Nuclear Family

14 Romantic Love For each individual there is a single perfect partner who, once found, makes life complete and permanent happiness possible. Love conquers all

15 Romantic Love

16 Rural Simplicity True American virtue and happiness are to be found by living close to nature on a farm or in a small town. The ‘good old days’ were less complicated and virtuous Cities are places of sin, violence, and corruption

17 Rural Simplicity

18 Technology as Protector and Savior
Technology is good because it protects the other myths and helps ensure their continued validity (as long as technology doesn’t threaten the other myths, it is an essential good). Science is the servant of humankind “progress is our most important product” (old GM slogan)

19 Technology as Protector and Savior

20 Violence Outside the Law to Achieve Justice
The Law is made by powerful figures who – at their best – create laws to foster the common good (but often ignore or run roughshod over individuals) or – at their worst – create a legal web which protects the status quo, punishes the innocent and fosters a bureaucracy which loses justice in details of the law. “extremism in defense of virtue is no vice” (Goldwater)

21 Violence Outside the Law to Achieve Justice

22 Other Aspects… Beliefs often work together
Individual freedom and rural simplicity and romantic love Beliefs often contradict each other Technology and Rural Simplicity

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